Tips & Tricks
Timesaving shortcuts from SignCraft readers
Posted on Saturday, December 29th, 2018
Have a tip to share?
Make your own glass holders for your laser engraver
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I may have several hundred drinking glasses on my laser engraver to do for a restaurant chain and was doing some online research for holders, because I was looking for a better way to quickly get them in and out of my rotary holder.
Some people use male and female rubber cones that go into the glass and over one end. The choices were very limited, and they were priced at over $100 for the pair.
Others put tape around the top of the glass so the chuck would grip the glass without cracking it. That’s okay for a short run but too time-consuming for larger quantities.
So being a self-taught hillbilly engineer, I started looking around the shop for alternatives. Plastic funnels would work great, but I didn’t have any the right size. (Maybe I’ll pick up some later.) But, hey, why not use plastic bottles with tapered tops and put some rubber strips on them for grippers to experiment with?
A two-quart jug that once held tomato juice was the perfect size for the female end, and a one-quart bottle that had held some cleaning solution was perfect for the male end. I cut them off at the shoulders with a bandsaw, then used stick-on rubber weather stripping in three places to grip the glass. On the male end, I put an end block in it with a center hole to line up with the tailpiece of the rotary holder. This was cut from a piece of 1/2-in. plywood.
It works perfectly. It cost about 50 cents in materials and less than an hour to design and construct. These will hold cylindrical items from 2- to 4-in. in diameter, which covers practically all drinking cups and glasses. I’m sure I can find containers of other sizes to make larger or smaller versions if the need arises, or maybe I’ll use funnels to make the next set from.
Larry Elliott, Elliott Design Pro, McLemoresville, Tennessee
The right tools make impossible jobs possible
Recently we received an order for 500 signs for evacuation routes in a facility—250 with a blue reflective P (for the primary route) and 250 with a red reflective S (for the secondary route.) The arrows would be installed by the customer. The problem was that the signs had to be delivered within two weeks.
I had to get moving and think fast on how to proceed. Jobbing out the bending, cutting and punching holes was out of the picture since most companies needed two to three weeks before they could even ship them to me. I needed to fabricate them in house, and I work alone. Having the right tools made it possible to make the deadline:
1. I started with 24-by-36-by-.040-in. aluminum blanks.
2. Using a 52-in. foot shear, I cut these into 12-by-12-in. blanks.
3. I then rounded the .5-in. radius corners, using a manual Accucutter Cornermate corner tool
4. Using an Xpert Hole Punch
, I punched six .25-in holes in each blank.
5. Next, I bent the 1.5-in. flanges at 90 degrees, using a 12-in. hand brake. 6. Finally, I cut and applied the reflective letters onto the blanks.
The secret was to make jigs and stop devices to avoid measuring each piece, and to use tools that let me work efficiently. As a result, the job went smoothly, the deadline was met, and the customer was happy. I wish I had more orders like this one. Michael James, Apple Signs LLC, Pineville, Louisiana